Use this handy list to help you choose plants that deer usually don’t find appetizing in the landscape
Keep in mind: No plant is absolutely guaranteed to be deer proof! If deer are hungry enough, they’ll eat anything — even plants they don’t like — especially in the winter when food sources are scarce. The plants below are not usually a deer’s top choice.
Bulbs Allium Daffodils Garlic Iris Onions
Herbs Marjoram Mints Oregano Thyme
Perennials Astilbe Apache Plume Basket of Gold Bleeding Heart Chocolate Flower Clematis Coneflower Creeping Phlox Daylilies Dianthus Delphinium Euphorbia Flax Foxglove Globe Thistle Golden Banner Goldenrod Honeysuckle Lamb’s Ear Lavender Lenten Rose Liatris Lily of the Valley Mexican Hat Coneflower Penstemon Peony Poker Plant Poppies Prairie Zinnia Prickly Pear Purple Prairie Clover Russian Sage Salvia Sedum Shasta Daisy Soapworts Snowdrops Snow-in-Summer Virginia Creeper Western White Clematis Yarrows Yucca
Shrubs Alpine Currant Austrian Copper Rose Big Western Sage Boulder Raspberry Chokecherry Common Hackberry Common Juniper Creeping Mahonia Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany Euonymus Fernbush Fragrant Sumac Golden Currant Hancock Coralberry Leadplant Lilacs Mountain Ninebark Nanking Cherry Oregon Grape Holly Persian Yellow Rose Potentilla Pyracantha Quince Rabbitbrush Red Twig Dogwood Rose of Sharon Santolina Silver Buffaloberry Snowberry Spirea
Trees Colorado Spruce Concolor Fir Douglas Fir Gambel’s Oak Honeylocust Lodgepole Pine Pinyon Pine Rocky Mountain Maple
Make sure you’re not planting a buffet of deer favorites in your landscape! Deer show a particular preference for narrow-leafed evergreens, especially arborvitae and fir. They also love tender, green plants like hostas, daylilies, and English ivy. You might also want to employ some other strategiesin addition to deer-resistant plant choices.
“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”
~ Indian Proverb
Why should you consider starting this year’s garden indoors? Why not just wait until the last frost date passes, and plant seeds directly in the garden beds? There are lots of reasons — especially in Colorado — why getting a head start on the season is such a good idea.
Get a Jump on the Growing Season Besides just being a lot of fun, one of the best reasons to start seeds indoors is that here in Colorado, the growing season tends to be rather short — even more so in the mountain communities! Being able to set young plants out (as opposed to sowing seed directly) allows your crops to be a few weeks ahead at the beginning of the season, and that means earlier harvests of those tasty spring and summer veggies!
Grow a Warm-Season Crop in a Short-Season Climate Everyone’s favorite summer vegetables usually have a long growing season. Beans, corn, and tomatoes can require anywhere from 60-100 days from seed to maturity, and those bright October pumpkins require 120 days! If you have to wait for the outdoor soil to reach the optimal temperature for growing, you’ll miss out on valuable growing days. Considering Colorado’s growing season is only an average of 150 days, getting started earlier sure can be an advantage. Start these popular summer crops weeks earlier by seeding indoors, and start enjoying those juicy tomatoes a little sooner!
When it comes to starting perennial flowers from seed, you may be able to get first-year blooms on flowers that usually don’t flower until their second year in the garden. Varieties that benefit from a head start indoors are: Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Coleus, and Lavender.
Grow a Variety That Isn’t Offered as a Starter Plant You might also consider starting from seed if you’d like to try varieties of veggies that your local garden center doesn’t offer as “starts” or young plants in the spring. By growing your own vegetables from seed, you have more varieties available to you. For example, while we grow more than 200 different types of vegetable plants each year here at Echter’s, we can’t offer every variety of every crop. Sometimes there may be something you’d like to grow in your garden that we don’t offer. Seed gardening is a great way to grow those extra-special varieties that may not be commonly available.
Fun for kids If you’ve got little gardeners around the house, the process of planting a dry, dead looking seed into soil, then watching it sprout and grow into a live plant is nothing less than magic! It can also provide a valuable lesson in where our food comes from. One small seed can grow a lot more than a plant. It just might grow a lifelong love of gardening.
A Word of Caution With some crops, it can be beneficial to just wait until after the last spring frost and sow directly into the garden. This tends to be true of root vegetables like radishes and carrots. Root crops are fussy about being transplanted because no matter how careful you are during the transplanting process, there’s bound to be some minor root damage, and that will show up in the final vegetable. Direct sowing produces better results in those plants.
There’s so much satisfaction that comes from starting your garden from seed. You control what’s going into your food crops, you can save money, and you have access to a greater variety of plants. One of the nicest things about seed gardening is having something green and growing during the grey days of winter. Pay us a visit, and be inspired by all the crops and varieties that are available this year!
This time of year we are all so enamored by flowers that it’s easy to overlook the value of colorful foliage in the garden. Colored leaves come in many hues, from shades of purple-reds to bright chartreuse greens to shades of orange. I’m not talking about fall color, here. These colorful leaves can be enjoyed all summer in their bright hues. Colorful foliage makes container gardens stand out from the crowd. In perennial beds, colorful leaves can provide beauty when plants are between bloom cycles. Colorful trees and shrubs stand out against the customary hues of green, becoming focal points of the garden.
Under the Sea Coleus, from Hort Couture Plants, is a favorite for container gardens. They come in several color combinations and sizes from tall to small. Each is unique in the world of coleus. All perform well in sun to part sun, in our Colorado climate. Small leaved varieties sail through the heat of summer. Large leaved cultivars, like “King Crab” will benefit from some shade in the afternoon.
Most people don’t think about trees being colorful unless it’s fall. There are, however, quite a few that shouldn’t be overlooked.
If landscapes had a sense of fashion, then dark leaved plants would be the “little black dress”. They are always in style and every garden should have at least one in the wardrobe. Japanese maples provide interesting structural form and many have colorful leaves that will turn a shady area into a mystical garden.
Heuchera is the coleus of perennials. Every year, more new cultivars are introduced. Most are relatively compact, making it easy to add them to existing garden beds or container gardens.
Barberry are among the most versatile, sun-loving shrubs for Colorado. They come in multiple sizes and shapes. Most have colorful leaves, ranging from bright red/orange to lemony greens. Tiny or tall, there’s so many shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to choose. Their thorns make them less suitable for areas where people may brush against them. That said, those thorn make them a great choice as a deterrent when planted around a home’s foundation, under windows. Their berries provide food for birds and their density provides shelter.
Evergreens, in both tree and shrub forms, are hardy additions to Colorado gardens. They thrive in full sun and manage to look fabulous despite our arid late summer conditions. They take wild temperature swings in stride, making them ideal in a climate with more than 40 freeze/thaw cycles each year.
Say the word “juniper” and some people cringe, thinking of prickly shrubs filled with spider webs. Today’s junipers come in many textures and sizes. Some are great for use as low growing shrubs. Others, like the one pictured, are drama queens, with soft needles and dense branching.
There’s more than one way to enjoy a colorful garden. So try some colorful leaves in your garden and see how dramatically they change the look of your landscape.
Peonies are one of the most adored spring flowers. There are some recent hybrids that are truly spectacular. Itoh peonies are named for hybridizer Toichi Itoh. They are hybrids between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, a.k.a intersectional hybrids.
The best traits of both parent plants come together to give these plants incredible garden performance. Strong stems are capable of supporting their sizable blooms. No more nodding flowers that can’t be enjoyed in their full glory. The strong stems also mean they make fabulous cut flowers. Itoh peonies have increased vigor, durability, and long life in the garden. In addition to all those improvements, Itoh peonies produce primary and secondary buds, which means many more flowers, up to 50 on mature plants.
Like their herbaceous parent, they die back to the ground in winter and often have a light fragrance. Like all peonies, they should be mulched well in the fall to stabilize the ground temperature during the winter freeze/thaw cycles.
While we’re on the topic of peonies, let’s dispel a common myth. Peonies do not need ants in order to bloom. Ants are often seen on peony blooms simply because they are attracted to their sweet nectar secreted by peonies as they bud. The ants don’t harm the flowers. They are just after the carbohydrates in the nectar. If you are concerned about ants on your peonies when you are ready to display them indoors as cut flowers, dip the blooms in water to help rinse away potential hitchhikers.
Fall automatically brings to mind changing colors and inspires us to change out our tender summer annuals for new shades. Traditional pansies and mums are a classic seasonal adornment to bridge the gap from summer to winter, but have you tried combining them with other late-season color?
Try some of these ideas and you’ll have containers you’ll love through to Thanksgiving! Most of these are perennials, so they can be pulled out and planted in the ground when you are ready to change out for holiday decorations.
Ornamental Kale/Cabbage- most commonly found as large rosettes in shades of green, icy blue-green, purple, pink, or red, kales are long-lasting and easy to maintain. Annual.
Sedum- covers a wide range of colors, textures, and heights. Some varieties are only a few inches tall, while others such as Autumn Joy can reach 2 feet. Mixing varieties in the same container can produce an amazing results—a tall, billowing sedum in the back of a pot can be nicely balanced by ‘Dragons Blood’ spilling off the front in shades of red (or ‘Angelina’ for yellow). Many varieties have quarter-size fleshy leaves that shift in tone from cool blues to fall tones.
Euphorbias- flower vividly in the spring and have red/orange/yellow leaves as fall sets in. Foliage texture can be rigidly upright to wispy and delicate. Some have a full & fluffy look, while others are more airy.
Heucheras/ Coral Bells – Available in a wide range of fall colors from deep, rich purples to caramel. Green varieties blend to reds and purples as the season progresses and add a sophisticated flair.
Rudbeckia- Plants (and flowers!) can be mammoth or miniscule depending on variety. ‘Toto’ reaches a pint-sized 1’ in height and bronzed ‘Autumn Colors’ will reach 2+’. Also in the tall group are ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Prairie Sun’. ‘Goldsturm’ has smaller flowers but a ton of them.
Ornamental Grasses- Easy fillers that come in a range of tones. Provide structure and overall form for the combination.
Now that you have some ideas, how to put them together? Generally speaking, container plantings look best when you follow the adage “Thriller, Spiller, Filler”. Sedums can be any of those, depending on the varieties you select. Euphorbias are likely to be fillers or thrillers. Rudbeckias make a great thriller, and heucheras are lovely fillers. Adding back in the mums and pansies, a large patio pot might contain:
1 Autumn Joy Sedum
1 Grass, Zebra (yellow and green)
2 Heucheras- one purple, one red or caramel
1 6pk pansies, any colors , 2 Mums, any color
For a smaller container, try:
– 1 kale
– 1 mum
– 2 small sedums
Remember to pull out and plant perennials in the ground if you would like to have them come back next spring. Plants are less likely to overwinter successfully in containers.